Glenbard West handles Larkin in super rematch
After a last-second win at Lyons Township Tuesday night that placed his Glenbard West unit within a half a game of the Lions in the West Suburban Silver, Hilltoppers coach Jason Opoka wasn't complaining.
"Hey, I'll take it," Opoka said prior to the Hilltoppers' home nonconference tip versus Larkin at Biester Gym Wednesday evening.
After a 52-32 win in a contest that pitted them against the school it defeated 10 months ago at the Northern Illinois University supersectional en route to capturing a Class 4A state title, any complaints would be viewed as those of a positive and constructive nature as it earned its third straight victory and fifth in their last seven.
"Coach Opoka was telling us that we need to come in with the same mindset that we did with Lyons," West senior center Logan Brown said. "Come in (also) with the same intensity. Can't write any opponents off. We wanted to come out (and) work (offensively) inside out. Rebound well and defend like we do. I thought we executed really well."
That execution propelled the Hilltoppers (11-5) early on behind Brown's inside prowess. He tallied 10 of his game-high 23 points in the first half that saw their lead get as high as 26-10 on a putback with 3:12 left in the second.
Glenbard West took a 29-19 advantage at the break and then proceeded to blow the game wide-open thanks to a dominant third quarter where it outscored the visitors from the west side of Elgin 16-4 holding them to just 1-of-11 shooting from the floor giving the Hilltoppers a 45-23 advantage heading into the fourth.
"Early we got the ball inside and we got some tips, deflections and steals in the full court that we had some transition opportunities that gave us confidence and it always helps when you make some shots from the outside," Opoka said. "Defensively, that's our bread and butter, we did a really nice job in 1-3-1 (defense) and we never looked back."
The Royals (6-11) got no closer than 45-30 on a Jacob Blakley 3-pointer with 5:02 to play.
Blakley led Larkin with 11 points.
"We're struggling on a couple of different levels," Royals coach Deryn Carter said. "Nothing that can't be fixed if the desire and the will's there to fix it. I know it is, so we'll get it fixed. Just trying to figure out our rotations and playing time and things like that while you're also trying to win."
The Hilltoppers return to WSC Silver play at Downers Grove North Friday evening while Larkin battles its crosstown rival Elgin the same night as it returns to Upstate Eight Conference action.
Brown feels having learned from his former teammates bodes well for his squad.
"We learned to fight last year during practice against some of the best guys in Illinois, so I think we're just carrying it over and trying to show people what we can do," Brown said.